UFC 149’s Mitch Clarke: “You Don’t Get Better By Beating Up Chumps and Cans in the Gym”
Refocused Lightweight Ready to Fight Anton Kuivanen
By Kelsey Mowatt
When Mitch Clarke gets into the Octagon for a second time at UFC 149, the Canadian lightweight is certain, that the man who fights that night will be better than the one who showed up for his UFC debut. At UFC 140 last December, Clarke was stopped by John Cholish in the second round, and was handed the first professional loss of his five year long career.
“I think I underperformed,” said Clarke, while discussing his Octagon debut. “I definitely don’t want to take anything away from John Cholish. He’s a great fighter; he did his job that night, which was to beat me up and he did that. I feel like I didn’t properly mentally prepare. I don’t think I was in the right mindset for that fight and I didn’t perform to my abilities.”
Prior to fighting Cholish, Clarke had worked his way to the top of Canada’s lightweight rankings by winning nine straight fights. Of the nine victories, seven had come via submission or stoppage. Despite his successes and having made it to the UFC, however, Clarke concedes that something was missing as his debut neared.
“I think part of it was training,” Clarke added. “I’ve changed my mindset during training now. I’m happy to go to the gym and I’m happy to go to my workouts and stuff, and by the end of my last training camp it definitely wasn’t like that. So I think it’s about mindset; the mind’s a powerful thing and I definitely want to harness that.”
Due to an injury, which kept Clarke on the sidelines earlier in the year, the Hayabusa fighter hasn’t had an opportunity to put on a better showing.
“I had injured my shoulder a little bit in training about three weeks before the fight,” Clarke told Full Contact Fighter. “And then during the fight when he took me down against the cage in the first round, when I went to wall walk up, I separated my shoulder; it was a second grade separation. So I really had to take care of it.”
“Knees and shoulders are really things that you need to take care of in wrestling, jiu-jitsu and especially MMA,” Clarke added. “I wanted to get back sooner, and they knew they were going to Calgary, so I think they had a little while to get me on there.”
On July 21st, Clarke will take on Finland’s Anton Kuivanen (16-5), who is coming off a unanimous decision loss in his Octagon debut to Justin Salas on February 15th.
“He’s got a lot of footage out there so we’ve been dissecting it a little bit,” Clarke said about Kuivanen, who like the Edmonton fighter had also won nine straight bouts prior to his first UFC appearance.
“Not so much about what he doesn’t do but what he does do consistently. I know he’s changed camps and now he’s been at American Top Team for a little while, so he really can’t get worse by training at a great gym like that.”
“He’s athletic, he’s good kickboxer, more of a traditional kickboxer,” Clarke furthered. “He has a fast right hand. He has decent Judo and is well rounded. He looks strong and I think it’s going to be a tough fight. I think both of us are there to have fun, so, it should be a good fight.”
Although Clarke was quick to credit the renowned ATT camp, the Hayabusa Training Centre in St. Albert, Alberta, where he trains continues to produce UFC level talent.
“It’s a group of great guys,” Clarke said about the Hayabusa team, which includes UFC competitors Ryan Jimmo, Nick Penner and Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight Luke Harris. “You don’t get better by beating up chumps and cans in the gym. All of us push each other and all of us have different styles…we all work well off each other.”